LDF Urges Robust Implementation of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) To Close Achievement Gaps and Promote Student Success

Date Filed: 02/16/2018

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015. This bipartisan measure reauthorizes the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation’s national education law, and renews its longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students. The ESEA was a landmark civil rights law that has helped to ensure equal access to quality educational opportunities for all students, regardless of income or geography, since its enactment in 1965. 

LDF’s Senior Education Policy Counsel Janel George testified at a January 11, 2016 Department of Education Public Hearing on advice and recommendations for Title I regulations under ESSA. Watch the testimony here.

George stated that the Department of Education retains authority under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to issue regulations, guidance, and technical assistance to states and local educational agencies in order to close achievement gaps and promote student success.  Programs under Title I are especially consequential as they historically support the educationally disadvantaged, including districts serving high proportions of low-income students and those identified for improvement.

There are four particular areas in Title I of the law under which LDF urges the Department to issue regulations, guidance, and technical assistance to aid implementation:

  1. First, in the area of sub-group accountability, the Department should provide regulations to define the statistically sound minimum number of students which should comprise a particular student sub-group, including students of color. This is essential to capture data on how sub-groups are performing.
  2. Second, school funding: the Department should issue regulations and provide technical assistance to states in identifying and providing targeted funding for Title I districts to ensure geographic diversity and also outline a methodology for monitoring Title I funds to ensure that they are used as intended—especially when combined with local and other funds under flexible per-pupil spending.
  3. Third, resource equity:  For schools identified for improvement, we urge the issuance of regulations, guidance, and technical assistance to help states identify and address resource inequities, including reviewing LEA and school-level budgeting and designing remedies—particularly for those schools targeted for additional support and in need of periodic review of resource allocation.
  4. Fourth, reintegration of system-involved youth:  As a federal partner of the Dignity in Schools Campaign, we know that youth of color are disproportionately targeted, arrested, and referred to the juvenile justice system, often for minor disciplinary offenses.  This increases their likelihood of dropping out of school and fuels the school-to-prison pipeline.  Therefore, we urge the Department to issue regulations, guidance, and technical assistance to help ensure that students involved in the juvenile justice system are able to receive credits, re-integrate into the school environment, and obtain a regular high school diploma necessary to pursue post-secondary opportunities.

There will be a second hearing on January 19, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, in Los Angeles, CA. Click here for more information on the public hearings.

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